I’d like to know what each of the 3 antennas do. I know one is a shared antenna (Bluetooth and WIFI) and that the other two are WIFI antennas. What’s the difference? Why several WIFI antennas instead of just one? Are ones for 5GHz and others for 2.5GHz? Are ones for receiving and others for transmitting?

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  • Which model of MacBook Pro do you have? (year, size, etc.)
    – jksoegaard
    Apr 2, 2019 at 23:21

1 Answer 1


In general, WiFi uses the same antenna for both transmitting and receiving.

In general, multiple WiFi antennas are used to get higher capacity (i.e. higher bandwidth). For example a common setup is 3x3 MIMO (multiple-input and multiple-output) where 3 antennas are used to exploit multipath propagation in order to increase the bandwidth available.

In very rough terms the idea is that there's a limit to the data rate, you can send/receive at a certain frequency with the technology available. Instead of increasing the data rate, MIMO uses multiple antennas to send multiple data streams at the same time on the same frequency, but from different antennas.

The receiver can then through advanced signal processing seperate the three signals even though they're sent at the same frequency, because they arrive at the receiver in three different directions.

This idea makes it possible to reach higher data speeds over a 3 antenna link than one with just 1 antenna.

Regarding 2.4 Ghz vs. 5 Ghz - it is the case that some MacBook Pro models use one antenna for 2.4 Ghz and the two others for 5 Ghz. Other MacBook Pro models use all antennas for both frequencies.

  • Great answer, thank you. I'm a technician and I'm looking for a way to properly test Macs. I noticed that if any of the wifi antennas is disconnected (for example, the technician who fixed the Mac didn't connect it): WIFI and Bluetooth pass my testing. I test by pairing to WIFI then pairing a Bluetooth device, or airdropping to an fro. I'm thinking of a way to catch an antenna being disconnected. Apr 3, 2019 at 19:46
  • Maybe I can try to join a 2.4 and then a 5GHz wifi network and see what happens, I guess I'd need a wifi analyser app to check our wifi signals Apr 3, 2019 at 19:48

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